Thursday, October 20, 2016

Coming out of a skid

Scoutmaster minute September 22, 2014 

I look around this room, and I can see that not all of you are old enough to drive. But does anybody know how you get your car out of a skid? (group answers) That’s right, when I learned to drive, we were taught that if your car went into a skid, you were supposed to turn into the skid. Once, in my late 20’s, I was driving in the snow on the highway and a semi-truck crossed lanes in front of me. The snow plows had left little mounds of snows piled up between the lanes, and when the semi crossed the snow, it threw a bunch of snow onto the hood and wind shield of my car. Now I was driving a small car, a Ford Festiva, if you know how small that is, and I was thrown into a spin. I couldn’t tell which way the skid was going, I just spun around, in slow motion it seemed, across three lanes of traffic and into a ditch where my car landed with a thump on two wheels leaning against a guard rail.   

It took a minute to realize that I was alright. The car was very quiet. The windshield wipers were still going. I looked myself over. No blood. I leaned toward the driver’s side door and the car fell with a plumpf sound into the snow. I pushed on the gas and drove slowly along, climbing the incline at an angle until I reached the paved shoulder. I put the car in park and got out and walked all around it. There wasn’t even a mark on the side that had leaned against the guard rail. I was lucky. That skid could have killed me, impaired me physically or mentally, wrecked my car. Raised my insurance rates. I might have killed another driver as I spun off the road, and I would have had to live with that.  

When I became Scoutmaster, I took on online defensive driving class, so I can drive the van and keep you guys safe. It’s an eight hour class, and most of it was pretty boring, so I won’t tell you the whole thing. But, there was one thing in the course that I thought was really useful. Instead of telling drivers to steer into the skid, the defensive driving course advised that when skidding, you should point the front of the car in the direction you want to go. That would have been a more helpful instruction to me when I was in a swivet. I couldn’t tell which way the skid was, but I could have pointed the front of my car someplace, and maybe stayed on the road.  

 It occurred to me that life is a lot like driving, especially when you’re a teenager, and I know you’ve heard this before, that distracted driving is dangerous, especially when you’re a teen. But life is full of distractions that can set you into a skid.  People make choices that set them into a spin: getting in with the wrong crowd, using drugs, dropping out of school and in some cases, getting on the wrong side of the justice system. You guys in this room have done something to protect yourself from skidding.  You’ve chosen to be a scout. By coming to scouts every Monday, you are pointing your car in the direction you want to go. And if you get distracted and go into a skid, your scouting experiences will help you get yourself back on the road. 

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